Image source: KyoaniChannel on YouTube

I don’t think I’ve ever watched a recap movie that didn’t feel like a recap movie before.

[Note: This article contains spoilers for the entire Sound! Euphonium series.]

Sound! Euphonium is the story of the Kitauji High School concert band club and its rise from a quaint, uninspired little club to a full-fledged unit that competes in the nationals. The second Sound! Euphonium movie, Sound! Euphonium: Todoketai Melody (Melody I Wish to Send), covers certain events of the second season of the series but alters the perspective somewhat. Where the series centers on the protagonist—the euphonium player Kumiko Oumae—the movie focuses on Kumiko’s fellow euphonium player and emotional anchor for the entire concert band club, Asuka Tanaka. The movie essentially omits the events of the first half of the second season with all its high school drama and devotes pretty much the entirety of its run time on the second half arc involving Asuka’s personal conflicts.

After having successfully won a spot in the high school concert band club nationals, the Kitauji High School club is shaken by the news that one of its central members, Asuka, may be quitting the club due to pressure from her mother.

Image source: 劇場版 響け!ユーフォニアム on Twitter

As realistic and complex as the entire cast of Sound! Euphonium is, the character of Asuka is perhaps the most interesting and most complex of all. She is someone who was forced by circumstance to mature faster than her peers and by the time she is a high school senior, she has grown to be a motherly figure to her band-mates and a central figure of the club. As such, her potential departure forces the orchestra members to come to realize just how much they’ve come to rely on her for moral support. Meanwhile, Kumiko struggles to understand the circumstances that have placed Asuka in this position and hopefully find a way to have her come back to compete in the nationals.

Where the first season was about growing up and recognizing responsibility, the second breaks that down—showing that while maturity and compromise is important, there are times when it may not be worth the potential regret that may come later. That sometimes it is better to feel emotionally right than be logically right. The movie condenses that message and, as a result, becomes an extremely emotional and personal story with lots and lots of tears.

Image source: 劇場版 響け!ユーフォニアム on Twitter

It’s been a while since I saw the second season of Sound! Euphonium, so despite being a compilation movie, a lot of it felt fresh and new. It was extremely hard at points to tell which scenes were from the series and which were newly added for the movie. The altered perspective of moving the focus from Kumiko and making it a story almost entirely about Asuka also helps. It was a recap movie that literally didn’t feel like a recap movie. The movie also reaffirms the fact the Kyoto Animation is an absolutely amazing animation studio with one of the most spectacular sequences of an orchestra band playing an entire piece in the nationals in a quality that is reminiscent of the God Knows sequence from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. That alone makes the movie well worth seeing.

If given the choice whether to watch the movie or the entire second season, I would probably have a very hard time answering. While the movie adds a lot of perspective and amplifies the emotional level of the Asuka arc of the story, the other parts that have been omitted are definitely important. The movie isn’t necessarily lacking without them, as it tells its own complete story. Still, if asked, I would probably say it’s worth watching everything.

For a series that successfully captures the emotions and turmoil of being a high-schooler, few series are as accurate and down to earth as Sound! Euphonium. The movie was a welcome reminder of that and now I can’t wait for the upcoming new movie that is scheduled for release next year.

Sound! Euphonium: Todoketai Melody premiered on September 30, 2017. There is no word on an international release. The Sound! Euphonium series can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

Image source: 劇場版 響け!ユーフォニアム on Twitter

On a completely tangential note: Where most movies begin with a request to be courteous in the movie theater by turning off your cell phone. The Sound! Euphonium movie begins with a brief skit and a “photograph moment” that literally gives audience members permission to take pictures of the screen and to post said picture on the internet. I was too taken off guard and my phone was turned off and buried too deep in my bag for me to take a picture in time, but it was an interesting little feature and I wonder if it will become something of a norm down the line.

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